It’s an Island Thing…

Gallant’s Shellfish & Seafood expands to Stanley Bridge

Tyler Gallant is no stranger to hustling. In the summer of 2015, while working as the executive chef at Shaw’s Hotel, the 32-year-old native of Bunbury launched Gallant’s Shellfish & Seafood at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market. Fast forward to the summer of 2017, and Gallant has not yet stopped to take a breather; rather, he’s set up a second location at the former site of Carr’s Lobster Pound in Stanley Bridge.

“It was [only a few] months ago when we first realized it could happen,” Gallant said of the opportunity to take over this well-established lobster pound in the heart of the North Shore.

The ‘we’ he speaks of is himself and his partner, Christine Murnaghan, who is also a red seal chef and works with Gallant when she’s not busy with her day job at Canada’s Smartest Kitchen. In true Island-style, the couple first met whilst far-flung from their home province of PEI, on a tiny island off Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

Photo Credit: Christine Murnaghan

“He’s always had this thing for islands… there’s something about that connection to the sea,” Murnaghan said, listing off a few of the many places Gallant spent cooking in his twenties—including Bermuda, Saint Martin, Nantucket, Vancouver Island, and Newfoundland.

“I’ve always wanted to cook for Islanders [on PEI],” said Gallant, who eventually made his way home after a stint at Chinched Bistro in St. John’s. “My friends needed someone to fill in for a few weeks. I ended up staying for two years. I still send oysters and other Island seafood to the restaurant.”

With his feet firmly planted back on PEI in 2009, Gallant began scouting out opportunities to wield his culinary skills and test the entrepreneurial waters. “Our goal was to get into the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market,” he said.

It was this goal that ended up shaping the kind of cuisine Gallant decided to focus on. “We noticed a lack of prepared seafood at the market and we have an appreciation for PEI seafood and its simplicity,” he said.
Gallant’s Shellfish & Seafood was born, Gallant’s application to vend was approved by the Market’s board and he was allocated a small booth inside the market. From this humble space, Gallant began building a reputation for fresh, high-quality seafood dishes, including lobster quiche, Belle River crab cakes, fried oysters, freshly shucked oysters, and an ever-changing catch-of-the-day served with a local green salad.

Photo Credit: Laura Weatherbie/Salty

“We get a lot of our ingredients from the market vendors before the market opens[…]we’ll get greens from Heart Beet Organics and bread from Angel [of True Loaf],” Murnaghan said. This hyperlocal ingredient sourcing is reflected in the approach they take when developing the menu each week and seems to be working well, as evidenced by the popularity of the booth.

“In the summer we’re really only limited by how fast we can serve people[…]we definitely have a local customer base,” Gallant said. “It’s about 50:50 [locals to visitors] in the summer and about 99 percent Islanders in the winter.”

Gallant also does a lot of catering, leveraging years of experience in this area along with a commitment to local sourcing. “We do everything from small community-based events to grand weddings,” he said. Last September was especially busy for Gallant, who said the company brought in a quarter of its annual revenue that month.

“It took an orchestra of people to pull that off, I felt like the conductor. We pulled off some high-end events for Fall Flavours and catering for a film crew. I was maxing out payroll, we had a lot of extra staff, about 12 in total.”

For Gallant, being captain of his own ship (figuratively, for the time being) is only part of the appeal of being an entrepreneur. “Ultimately, my goal is to be an employer, I really like that feeling. I don’t foresee being a massive employer, but I’d like to be able to offer decent jobs to people here on PEI,” he said.
In addition to the staff he hires for catering gigs, Gallant’s been able to provide his 17-year-old brother, Carson, with a job alongside him at the market booth and a unique opportunity to learn the ropes of the industry.

“He’s a natural oyster shucker,” said Gallant. “It’s great to have him there, people love to talk to him.” He notes that the Grade 11 Charlottetown Rural student recently won the Skills PEI competition in Secondary Cooking and competed in the nationals. “He has the potential to be a really great chef.”

Tyler Gallant (R) serves up fresh, prepared seafood dishes at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market with his brother, Carson (L).//Photo Credit: Laura Weatherbie/Salty

Gallant’s current focus is on tightening things up for the busy summer season in Stanley Bridge. He said it’s a very complicated operation, but it would have been a lot harder if they’d started from scratch, rather than taking over Carr’s Lobster Pound, which opened 20 years ago.

“The Carrs [Phyllis and Robert] have been a great help, passing on knowledge and tips,” Gallant said. In addition to freshly-caught crustaceans, Gallant is serving a selection of prepared foods at the pound, including chowder and freshly shucked oysters.

His new role as fishmonger seems a natural fit for Gallant, who was making multiple runs to the North Shore each week last year to buy seafood. Now he’s making those runs to his own fish market and, no doubt, will be hustling his way through another hectic summer.

 

Gallant’s Shellfish & Seafood location in Stanley Bridge, PEI.//Photo Credit: Laura Weatherbie

About Shannon Courtney

Shannon oversees all content creation for Salty and may be ‘slightly’ obsessed with proper apostrophe usage. When she’s not writing about food, she’s either cooking, eating, talking, or thinking about it. Her food adventures have included milking a Jersey cow in Australia, almost overdosing on maple syrup in Prince Edward County, and studying local food systems in Vermont as part of her Master’s thesis research. Shannon is also a holistic-nutritionist-in-training and strongly believes you CAN make friends with salad.

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